Posted by: Mark Nielsen | April 1, 2008

Opening Day: Diamonds and Dung Heaps

Kosuke Fukodome, new Chicago Cub right fielder

A few random, Foolish observations about Monday, the REAL Opening Day for America’s favorite pastime (not those flagrantly hollow marketing ploys from last week in Japan, or Sunday night in our nation’s capital).

Highlight of the day: The Daily Show’s coverage of President Bush throwing out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals’ new ballpark (no, Dubya, we don’t like you again just because you came out to throw a baseball). After the game’s baseball broadcaster says something about how no other past president has thrown a better first pitch, TDS cuts back to Jon Stewart, who says “Yeah, I think that’s the way we should judge the quality of ALL our presidents!” or something similar. Then he riffed on it a bit, doing mock broadcasts of George Washington’s weak “pussy” throw, and how Lincoln threw like a girl.

Lowlight of the day: The umpiring crew in Cleveland literally stealing a baseball game away from the White Sox, with a horrible interference call on a slide into second base. On the prior play, a questionable call at home plate also — though I have to admit I think the catcher’s tag grazed Sox Joe Crede’s right sleeve and Joe just didn’t feel it. But the double-play: no question it was a crap call, a case of the umps being as rusty as the players.

Runner up for highlight of the day: new Cub phenom Kosuke Fukodome (what an unfortunate name…) punches a dramatic game-tying three-run homer to center field in the ninth inning, off post-steroidal dung heap Eric Gagne. Wasn’t the Milwaukee GM watching any tape of Gagne on the Red Sox last year? Fukodome got on base every time he went up there, I think. Move over, Ichiro Suzuki. There’s a new Japanese sheriff in town.

Further proof that Minnesotans are great people: Speaking of sherrifs, as if Frances McDormand’s coolheaded, pregnant police chief in Fargo wasn’t enough evidence, yesterday the Metrodome crowd at the Twins/Angels game gave Torii Hunter not one but two standing ovations, on his return to the city where he made his MLB mark. Hunter signed with Anaheim in the offseason (and no, I will not call them the “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim”– that’s just idiotic marketing-speak). Unlike crowds in more jaded cities like New York, Boston, Philly, and yes, probably Chicago, the Twins faithful cheered their still-considered-hometown boy like grownups, instead of booing him like petulant children for his decision to move on.

[Minnesotans are so nice. Dumb enough to elect a pro wrestler as governor, but nice nevertheless… Here’s hoping those progressive, flannel-clad, goodhearted Minnesotans who gave us Prince and Hubert Humphrey can make up for that Jesse “The Body” Ventura  mistake by electing a man with a good head on his shoulders: current senatorial candidate Al Franken (creator of the Stuart Smalley/”GoshDarnIt, People Like Me” character on the old SNL). He’s the most serious funnyman in the history of politics, and the kind of new breed of politician we need for a new generation of more savvy citizens. Plus, it’s a big bonus that he’d be unseating a boneheaded incumbent Republican who’s done squat for his state so far.


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